April 23, 2005
What an adventure! We are both in our early 50's. On this cruise we took my wife's 90 year old father with us. We have been on 9 previous cruises. We arrived in San Juan on the day of sailing. We had purchased Celebrity transfers from the airport to the cruise terminal. This was about the smoothest embarkation that we have had.
We got right on the ship. Our bags arrived in our cabin within an hour. We had a Concierge Class cabin, 8139. They do tell you that this is part of the Concierge service. We were handed a glass of either champagne or orange juice. We headed off to the buffet area for lunch. We have been told by cruise critic members that this was one of the bestships they have sailed on.
The ship is laid out nicely. My wife's reaction was that it was a letdown. We had sailed last year on the Jewel of the Seas in the Baltic, and she felt that the Jewel was much more elegant and "modern" looking and much more to her taste. After a few trips around, I found that the ship was very easy to navigate. The dining room and buffet areas are in the back and the Celebrity Theatre is up front. With the Casino and shops in the middle, we were all set. We did not visit many of the bars but found the Cova Cafe to be very interesting. You could always find the captain there in the afternoon. He told us he really enjoyed their coffee. We did have a chance to go to the hospital as my father in law came down with bronchitis. The staff there was very friendly. They took great care of him. I just think he enjoyed the young nurses. Just remember that it is on a cash only basis even with
the medical insurance with the cruise line. You need to pay all the money up front, then put your claim in for a refund. In port, you will be leaving from either deck 2 or 3 or both. I was disappointed in the game room since there were few games to play. The best room was the computer room on deck 4. It was always busy, but was open 24 hours. There is also a computer classroom on Deck 6 which you could also use. They hold classes on different subjects. We took a class on downloading your digital camera. At the end ofthe cruise, they would help you load your saved pictures onto a CD. I do want to mention that the casino was not overly busy. I did ok on the craps table as I had it to myself almost every evening. They had only one ping pong table. We really enjoyed playing here after dinner or in the morning.
This was a Concierge Class cabin. We only paid about $100USD over a regular one. It was larger and had some nice features. There were fresh flowers in the room (not changed the entire cruise) and bathroom (which were changed).
The towels are thicker compared to the Holiday Inn type towels you will get in the regular cabins. My wife felt that the rugs were getting threadbare and needed changing. She also said the mildew in the shower and bath could've been taken care of easily but wasn't. We were dissappointed with no towel animals. The cabin attendant, Luna, and her assistant George, were tremendous. They took care of everything we needed. They kept the cabin very clean. We always enjoyed talking with them although Luna was the most talkative.
She was always on top of things. Can't say enough about them. The balcony was very nice as the chairs had a nice pad on them. I didn't like the binoculars that were in the cabin. They did not work well. My father in law did not like the pull out couch. He hurt his back on it the first day. We were able to get him into another cabin the next day. It was an inside cabin. He still complained about that bed as being lumpy and slanting toward one side.
CRUISE CRITIC CONNECTIONS PARTY
It was very nice to finally meet everyone we have been writing to on the threads on Cruise Critic. We enjoyed the one on the Jewel and thought thiswould be the same. It was not. We were given an invitation to meet at Michael's Club on the first sea day in the morning. All they had for us was coffee. There was no representative from the ship talking to us. Only the cruise director was there for a very brief time. We only know this because the cruise director told us later he was there. On the Jewel we had pastries and there were drawings for prizes. I know this is not a big deal, but I felt it added to the enjoyment. We had a great turnout. I think we had over 40 show up. There was a group shot taken by the cruise photographer. When I questioned the Cruise Director why it was not a bigger celebration, he told me that it is not done that way on Celebrity.
We had a early problem in the main dining room We had asked for a window table for 4 when we booked 8 months earlier. We found our table to be in the center of the main dining room. I spoke to the assistant head waiter. He found me a window table right away on deck 5 (upper level). It was a great table. Our waiter was Ottoneil (from Guatemale)and the assistant was Made (from Bali). They were very good. Made always had a smile on his face and knew exactly what we wanted. I had bought a coke card (don't bother with this unless you buy alot of cokes). I had ordered a coke at each meal. We had one bar server always bring me two cokes at the beginning of the meal. The food at dinner we rated good to very good. I always enjoyed the different selections of soup and appetizers. We both finally settled on getting Ceasar salads every night. My father in law felt that the fish dishes were overcooked. Mine were ok. One night the steak was tuff and even the second one they sent out was worse. Other than that, the food was good. The desserts and breads were always the best. I think this was also true on the Jewel.
The buffet was a very clean enviornment. The servers all wore gloves. The buffet selections left alot to be desired. On several occasions, we could not find anything we liked. We ended up going for cheeseburgers,fries, and pizza which were good. I can tell you those were the best fries I have ever tasted on a ship. The ice cream bar was very good. Great flavors in sherbet. Room service was good, delivered when ordered. We tried it for breakfast one day and found the food was not hot. I tried the sushi bar a few nights. It was very good. Another problem I found was there was not a good selection of cereals(breakfast). Mainly bran cereals and corn flakes. A box of Cherios would've been a welcome change.
This is where Celebrity shines. All the staff we encountered were friendly and always willing to help. Even the captain was accessible. Anytime we asked for anything, we received it. One point we didn't like was the cruise director, Ed Rojas. He was very nice when you met him, but I felt he was extremely too low key. Kudo's to the computer staff. They were always willing to help you out. Ariel was extremely knowledgeable and was always available for you. The rest of the computer staff was equally helpful and took the time to work with you if you had a problem.
Since this was our first transatlantic, we didn't realize the significance of the many sea days. I didn't like them. After day two, I was relaxed enough and was looking for some land action. I think our next cruises will be more port intensive. There were not many activities on those days. We did have guest lecturers. Marlin Fitzwater was the best. He was humorous.
The others were dry. And all of them were republicans. We would like to see some diversity in this area. I do want to let you know that during the entire voyage, the seas were very smooth or slightly rolling. We avoided any potential storms as they sailed around them. Even the Bay of Biscay was calm.
Too many production shows and not enough comedians. We felt that this was a very weak area and geared to an older crowd. A few highlights were Elliot Finkel, a pianist and Paul Boland and Marlise Boland, a husband and wife team whose performance was very good. He did musical impressions and she was a singer. The Celebrity singers and dancers were very talented but how
many production shows can you see on a cruise?
Because we were Concierge Class, we were able to get off the ship early. We also were able to meet in the Cinema as the rest of the ship met in the Celebrity Theatre. They had danish and coffee for us there. When we got off, there were plenty of porters to help you load your luggage and bring it to the bus. It went very smoothly. The whole process took less than 30 minutes. Overall, I felt that this was a good ship with great service. While I would never do another transatlantic, I would probably sail on this ship again with a different itinerary.